May 4, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to test the resiliency of business flight operations of all sizes, with large fractional ownership provider NetJets among the latest to adjust its workforce, fleet size and long-term planning in response to the coronavirus.
“Lives and businesses around the world have been forever changed by COVID-19, and NetJets is no exception,” wrote Patrick Gallagher, president of NetJets Sales, Marketing and Service, in a recent message to customers. “With flight volumes so depressed, we have taken necessary steps to adapt, with some portions of our business more adversely affected than others.”
In addition to instituting work-from-home programs where feasible, NetJets has also extended voluntary unpaid leave to flight crews and office staff, with those opting for the temporary program retaining their company-paid health benefits. While NetJets hasn’t laid off any employees at its branded U.S. operations due to COVID-19, other operating units have felt the pinch.
On April 23, NetJets subsidiary Executive Jet Management (EJM) – which provides supplemental lift for the company, in addition to its own branded aircraft charter and management operations – furloughed approximately 25% of its support staff in Cincinnati, OH. Portugal-based NetJets Europe also reduced its staff by approximately the same percentage.
Gallagher also announced that NetJets has “restructured, deferred, or canceled” slated aircraft deliveries for the remainder of the year, cutting the company’s planned receipt of approximately 60 new airplanes in 2020 down to approximately 25 due to “new market realities.”
For those NetJets aircraft that are still flying, the company is disinfecting interiors with an anti-microbial product that Gallagher stated also helps prevent recontamination. The company is also utilizing its own aircraft and support network to transport flight crew members, ensuring they’re based within driving distance of their scheduled planned departure point to further minimize risk.
“Daily, we see the distressing toll this [pandemic] is taking on private aviation,” said Gallagher. “While we remain ready to serve and are still conducting hundreds of flights every week, our overall demand has been down significantly since mid-March.”